Staff shortage at educational institutes across the country has been a pending problem for years
With colleges and universities dealing with faculty shortage for over a decade now, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has finally started making efforts to appease the situation, forming a committee to review the qualifications or eligibility criteria of professors for various courses.
Faculty and management alike have welcomed the move, claiming that the last such review was made in 1993. With several new courses having started since then, faculty needs have become far more specific, especially with interdisciplinary education becoming more popular.
The committee will work under the chairmanship of Dr Arun Nigvekar, former UGC chairman, and is expected to hold its first meeting in September. The meeting will be dedicated to an overview of the situation across the country before moving on to making recommendations.
“It’s too soon to speak about what needs to be done. Faculty shortage is everywhere, but some situations are specific to different states. Each state must have already found different ways to deal with the situation. We need to get abroader perspective by critically understanding all 30 states before working out a new approach. This caution is needed as it will be a general policy to govern professor appointments across the nation,” Nigvekar told Mirror.
Elaborating on the need for the review, Dr Nandkumar Nikam, president of the principals’ association, said, “The last time such a review was conducted was in 1993, when the National Eligibility Test (NET) and State Eligibility Test (SET) were initiated. Time has changed so much —there are new courses and an interdisciplinary approach to higher education. There are new subjects for which there are no professors available who are NET/SET qualified because these are comparatively new topics. Similarly, with the interdisciplinary approach, someone with a doctorate in economics may have studied something completely different at the undergraduate stage. Should we consider such a person to teach economics or not? Such questions need to be resolved.”
Dr Gajanan Ekbote, chairman of the Progressive Education Society’s business council, which runs several educational institutions in the city, welcomed the move but strongly expressed that all stakeholders need to be part of it. “The committee should not work from a single perspective. Honest interactions with all stakeholders are required as there are several aspects to this faculty shortage. The government has stopped the grant-in-aid process and most of the higher educational institutions are running without grant. In such cases, faculty remuneration is not very attractive compared to government colleges.
Echoing Ekbote’s views, Dr. Arunkumar Walunj, secretary of the Pune University Teachers’ Association, said, “UGC committees generally end up formed by retired educationists. To ensure new policies that will remain relevant even 50 years down the line, it is important to have representation from younger innovators in the field of education. There has to be transparency in this process — recommendations should be published on a public forum to ask for opinions from all concerned parties.”
█ We need a broader perspective by understanding all 30 states before working out a new approach. This caution is needed as it will be a general policy to govern professor appointments across the nation
– DR ARUN NIGVEKAR, FORMER UGC CHAIRMAN WHO WILL HEAD THE COMMITTEE